In Sacramento, hundreds (thousands, probably) of runners are finishing up at the CIM expo, anticipating a pre-race pasta dinner tonight, laying out running gear and planning strategies for CIM tomorrow. (That's the California International Marathon, by the way. Folsom to the State Capitol.)
I'm not one of them. I should have been. I could have been. I paid to be and I'm not seeing that money ever again. But thanks to my injury-caused two month hiatus from running this summer, I'm in no shape to run 26.2 miles right now. Certainly not at the quality level that I had planned for CIM. I ran a half marathon last weekend at least a minute per mile slower than I wanted for CIM. And I'm pretty sure I would not even be able to sustain that pace for a full marathon.
In reality, if I tried to run a marathon right now I would certainly be shuffling and walking in the later miles, and I might hurt myself or otherwise damage my chances of getting back into good marathon shape sooner rather than later. I would also put a big damper on my good feelings about CIM. In 2009 it was my Boston Qualifier, PR, and first marathon ever. I have always believed that if I were able to beat (or match) that time, it would be at CIM. So that dream is still alive. Just waiting.
I accepted that I wouldn't be able to do CIM back in September, after I'd been back to running for a few weeks and could see that my comeback would not be miraculous. But I didn't actually bite the bullet and completely cancel my plans until this week. Of course the race entry is not refundable or deferrable. I could still toe the starting line tomorrow, if I were in California. But I had a very expensive luxury hotel reservation that needed to be cancelled (not something I want to pay for by accident!)
And then there were plane tickets. Luckily flights to Sacramento are cheap, relatively. I had purchased flight insurance for my parents and myself, thinking my dad's health might require them to cancel (with no expectation that I would have a problem). But I think trip insurance is the biggest rip-off in the world. When I was looking at the policy* I am pretty sure that it excludes having to cancel a trip because a leg injury required me to drop out of a race. I think that particular situation is actually spelled out in the rules. It is possible that my parents' tickets may be covered, as long as his medical issues are not a pre-existing condition. But on the other hand, who knows if I cancelled their tickets in the right way to collect. We haven't tried yet.
Now, even though the cheap Alaska tickets are non-refundable, Alaska does allow you to cancel and apply the value to another ticket within a year, minus a $125 fee. So I will be able to use it against another flight next year. Unfortunately, the credit expires before CIM next year, so I won't be able to use it for next year's race. Which sucks a little bit. (And I'll only have about $100 left after the fee. But it's something.)
About a week before Thanksgiving, I was browsing the CIM Facebook page and website (as you do), and I learned that although marathon spots can't be refunded or deferred, marathon entrants can transfer to the relay and get a refund of the marathon that way. The relay has four legs, varying from about five to seven miles. CIM had a "friend finder" on their Facebook page, where people could meet up with others looking to form a team.
On the day I found this, there were at least two possible teams I could request to join. I did some additional research and found a cheaper but well-located hotel that would have a room for me, and figured out that by paying the $125 fee, I could change my plane ticket to a shorter weekend so I wouldn't miss work on Friday.
But I waffled. I wasn't sure if I should do it. I wasn't sure if I wanted to. This was before the Seattle Half Marathon, so I hadn't yet tested myself on a longer race distance. (One of the relay options was to run two legs, essentially a half marathon.) I looked at the Friend Finder page several times a day. My opportunities to join a team dwindled. The price of the alternate hotel went up (a little). The airfare went up so I would have to pay something in addition to the change fee. I started scheduling things at work that would be difficult to miss if I were gone.
The window was closing. On Thanksgiving weekend I slammed it shut and walked away.
This weekend, instead of flying to Sacramento, I watched the Pac-12 championship game on TV. This morning I ran a 5K in Burlington (the Skagit Jingle Bell Run). Tomorrow morning I will run 10 miles. I will probably think about the CIM runners. (Also the Tucson Marathon runners, which was my December marathon last year.) I'll probably watch the Seahawks game. (Last year my dad and I couldn't watch the Seahawks game in Tucson after the marathon, because they didn't air it in Tucson!) (Don't know if it will be on in Sacramento.)
The thing is, I'm not a person who is willing to run a marathon inadequately trained just to say I did it. I read about those people all the time in blogs and on Facebook. Good for them, if that's what makes them happy. When I run a marathon I want to give a strong effort, and have the ability to give that strong effort. Sometimes that effort will result in a slow or unsatisfactory result. Probably it will result in a slow result, but most of the time it won't be unsatisfactory. Because I know I am prepared and I've given what I can on the day.
Which is why I won't be running CIM tomorrow.
*That would be looking at the policy to see if I could collect. Not looking at it prior to purchasing the trip insurance.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad